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CARF introduces accreditation for student counseling in 2012 Behavioral Health Standards Manual

New standards are tailored to the needs and situations of students in higher education  

February 9, 2012, Tucson, Arizona -- Responding to the needs of service providers, CARF International released accreditation standards for student counseling. The standards are in the newly published 2012 Behavioral Health Standards Manual, available in electronic and print formats at www.carf.org/catalog (in Canada, www.carf.org/catalogue). 

Student counseling programs serve as the primary behavioral health resource for higher education campus communities and their students. Services include individual, family, and/or group counseling, prevention, education, and outreach.

The student counseling standards can be applied on CARF surveys conducted after June 30 this year.

The standards were drafted by a focus group and then submitted to CARF's International Advisory Council for review. CARF's approach to an inclusive standards development process culminated in a broad field review, which invited comment from interested professionals and the public, prior to the standards' adoption.

The accreditation standards were drafted as it became evident that a growing number of mental health centers were contracting with university systems to provide their student counseling services.  One provider, Steve Ronik, Ph.D., CEO of Henderson Behavioral Health in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said that more than a year ago his company began staffing the student counseling center of a major university and a community college with a combined student population of more than 70,000.

"Our first priority was to ensure we were providing services in accordance with established best practices. We found one accrediting body that provided standards for student counseling, but it restricted its accreditation to only universities. It was unaccustomed to accrediting behavioral healthcare systems," Ronik explained.

"That discovery prompted us to think about CARF accreditation because of CARF's record of excellence and its focus on outcomes and consumer satisfaction," Ronik continued. "Students need and deserve an evidence-based level of service that's specific to their unique needs and situations."

Nikki Migas, managing director of CARF's Behavioral Health accreditation area, said, "The student counseling standards are designed to provide students with opportunities to develop personal insight, identify and solve problems, and implement positive strategies to better manage their lives both academically and personally. In addition to working directly with students, program goals can be realized through outreach, partnerships, and consultation initiatives with faculty, staff, parents, students' internships sites, or other educational entities or community partners."

CARF's leadership in framing standards is backed by its 46-year history of accrediting health and human services.

2/9/2012 3:05:00 AM

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